First Friday Hopes to Create New Tradition with Alley Art

Sculpture Alley will be one of three alleys featuring art vendors at this week's First Friday.

By Kevin Collison

After hitting the reset button last month, this week’s First Friday in the Crossroads is returning art vendors to the mix in what organizers hope will become a new tradition.

“We’re going to have all the art vendors in some of our cool alleyways,” said Jeff Owens, president of the Crossroads Community Association.

“There will be pumpkins and cornstalks at the entries to the alleys, and most of the ones we’re using will have the Italian lighting.”

Last month, the Crossroads Association dramatically scaled back First Friday in response to the murder of Erin Langhofer, who was killed Aug. 2 by a stray bullet fired during a nearby fight between youths.

The event, which originally was hatched 20 years ago as an open house for art galleries and studios, had swollen to become a sprawling street party marginally connected to celebrating art with food trucks, vendors and performers.

This week’s First Friday will ban food trucks within the festival boundaries. (Map from Crossroads Community Association)

In response to the tragedy, last month’s First Friday returned to its roots by eliminating sidewalk vendors, performers, amplified music and food trucks in the festival area along 18th Street. The closing also was moved up to  9 p.m.

This week will be the last First Friday organized by the Crossroads Community Association until April, although the event does continue informally through the cold weather months.

Owens isn’t sure how many art vendors will show up this Friday, but he said about 300 are on the Crossroads Association email list.

The art vendors will be located in the three alleys off Baltimore between Wyandotte and Southwest Boulevard. One of them is Sculpture Alley, a public art concept the Crossroads has been pursuing.

Last month’s more low-key First Friday included family-friendly activities at the Downtown Church of the Resurrection.

The Crossroads Association had hoped to return food trucks this week, but was unable to come up with a plan in time. Owens said food trucks are expected to be back when the event resumes next spring.

Owens said however, there will be food trucks just beyond the festival permit boundaries in the East Crossroads along 18th Street between Cherry and Holmes.

He said merchants and art gallery owners in the Crossroads were pleased with how the scaled-back event turned out last month.

“It was incredible, really, we had amazing feedback from the gallery and shop owners,” he said. “They said it was one of their best months and people were there to visit galleries.

“We didn’t know how it would come out, but it felt like it used to. People were going to the galleries and weren’t just there to party.”

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